Covid-19 How Best To Protect Yourself
This month, we will be discussing how to best protect ourselves from COVID19 and steps to take if we get sick. We will look at some of the research pertaining to the communicability of the SARS-COV-2 virus (COVID19), and really get into the “nuts and bolts”, if you will, of staying healthy during such an unprecedented time in history.
Transmission of COVID19 is most often by way of airborne aerosol and droplet, but has also been found to be active on different types of hard surfaces and can remain viable for 24-72 hours depending on the type of surface. In a study conducted in late
2019, Doremalen et al. found the virus to be viable in airborne / aerosol form for up to 3 hours within an enclosed space and was also found to decrease accordingly to the size of the space. Plastic and stainless-steel surfaces were found to have active and communicable COVID19 for 48-72 hours. Cardboard surfaces, however, were found to have a much lower surface contamination timeframe of 24 hours.
In light of the communicability timeframes Doremalen et al. documented, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has never been more important. Masks are perhaps the most proven PPE in terms of COVID19 and not only protects you against airborne droplets, but also protects others around you. Surgical masks and N95 masks are a staple of not only healthcare personnel, but also of the general public today. According to the CDC, N95 masks protect the wearer from 95% of both large and small particles in air. Surgical masks protect the wearer from large droplets but do so in settings considered to be “low risk” such as larger open spaces with good ventilation, outdoors, and appropriate social distancing.
Although masks are a very necessary piece to our PPE, the most important aspect of protecting ourselves is social distancing. Many of us have wondered, “if I wear a mask, then why worry about social distancing?” The truth is, not even masks are entirely effective in “high risk” settings such as small enclosed spaces and very close personal proximity. Surgical masks protect against droplets or particles with a diameter of greater than 100 micrometers (microns), whereas SARS-COV-2 has a diameter of 60–140 nanometers (Smereka et al. 2020). 1 micrometer is equal to 1000 nanometers, and therefore, the SARS-COV-2 virus measures 0.06-0.14 micrometers. Similarly, N95 masks also have their limits in terms of protection as they are only capable of blocking particles that are 0.3 micrometers (300 nanometers) in diameter in controlled tests (Dimenstein, 2020). More research is needed on this topic, however, as the data has shown profound efficacy of masks over the past year.
As an example of a successful PPE strategy, the Guilford Fire Department has made an amazing effort to keep ourselves and the members of our community safe. N95 masks are utilized on every call we answer, we strongly encourage our members to maintain social distancing when possible while on duty, and masks are worn in the firehouse at all times. All facilities of the Guilford Fire Department are regularly cleaned and sanitized including every piece of apparatus. After each ambulance call, the patient compartment is completely sanitized in order to safeguard our next patients. As a department, we are dedicated to the safety and health of all that we serve!
With all of this information in mind, the solutions to protecting ourselves from COVID19 are very clear; Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, try to avoid small / enclosed spaces that are heavily trafficked areas, avoid touching hard surfaces in public, and wash your hands often! As
Now that we’ve discussed how to protect ourselves from COVID19, we will discuss the best steps to take if you become ill and are diagnosed with COVID19. Even thinking about becoming sick instills a higher sense of anxiety in an already chaotic time for so many of us. What will happen to my loved ones? Will I need to go to the hospital? What if I get really sick? As my college Rugby coach would always reiterate, “a good defense is a great offense.” In order to get better, we need to be prepared to take the right steps and attack COVID19 before it attacks us.
First and foremost, stay home if you feel sick! This is not only a strategy that protects others, but it also will protect you from an increasing severity of symptoms. Even if you become ill, there is still the chance of a negative COVID19 test with other illnesses still being present such as the flu, the seasonal cold, and other common ailments. The risk, however, is what these other illnesses do to aid COVID19 in its spread. When we become sick, our body begins to fight the antigens of that particular illness. While your body is fighting, it lets the gate down for a more prevalent and aggressive enemy such as COVID19 to walk right in due to an already compromised immune system.
Staying home when you are ill is certainly not without limits. It is imperative to get a COVID19 test if you feel sick and even more crucial to seek medical attention if you develop life threatening symptoms such as difficulty breathing and / or chest pain. Symptoms of COVID19 can certainly be severe, but there comes a time when you may not be able to care for yourself because of increased severity of symptoms and you may need immediate medical attention. PLEASE never hesitate to call 911 if you feel your condition is beyond your ability of self-care. We are happy to be here for you when you need us!
In terms of caring for yourself at home while ill with COVID19, our “game plan” should be centered around several principals; Rest, hydration, nutrition, and appropriate over-the-counter medication use.
Like any physical stressor, your body needs rest to appropriately recover.
As COVID19 is a largely inflammatory process, hydration is crucial in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, helping your urine output to maintain good kidney health, and helping your electrolytes remain balanced.
When our body is stressed and requires a large effort to complete a task (or to fight off an illness), it requires a higher caloric intake in order to provide enough glucose and other nutrients to maintain appropriate cellular function throughout your body.
Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is a fantastic antipyretic (fever reducer). It also has an anti-inflammatory property which is a profoundly beneficial use in the treatment of COVID19. Please make sure to follow instructions in terms of dosing as overdoses on Tylenol are indeed possible.
Next month, we will discuss the ongoing vaccination effort, the research surrounding it, and we will attempt to debunk any myths or hesitations pertaining to one of the greatest efforts of modern medicine history!
How Did The Fire Hydrant Get Its Name?
Firefighter/Paramedic Deputy Fire Marshal
Firefighting has been around for as long as humans have lived in towns, villages, and cities. From fire cauldrons and cisterns that supplied bucket brigades to the modern hydrants that are more brightly colored, this brief history of the fire hydrant explains how fire plugs transformed into the modern, cast iron versions we see today.
Why Are Hydrants Sometimes Called Fire Plugs
Back when city water mains were made of hollow logs, volunteer firefighters would dig down to the main and bore a hole in the pipe, releasing water into the hole they dug creating a cistern where firefighters used buckets in large bucket brigades or hand pumping systems to get the water to extinguish fires. After they were done extinguishing the fire, firefighters would then insert wood plugs in the holes they drilled therefore getting the name plug. The city of London replaced water mains after the catastrophic fire of 1666, using pipes with pre-drilled holes and fire plugs that reached above ground level. By the next century, cities began to replace the wood plugs with valves. Portable standpipes could be inserted into the valve plugs. This kind of ground-level valve and standpipe attachment is still in use in many European countries and the UK. Cast iron would come to replace wooden water mains, and when cast iron started becoming popular, branched fittings were placed on the mains at intervals, much like today's fire hydrants. These were like underground hydrants which could draw water from the water mains in a crude fashion.
Early Fire Hydrants Often Had Wooden Cases
The illustrations at left are from U.S. Patent #909, which was issued to John M. Jordan of Baltimore Maryland in 1838. As described above, this early form of the fire hydrant was essentially a metal pipe enclosed in a wooden case. There was a valve at the bottom, with an outlet on the side, near the top. Typically, the wooden case was filled with sawdust or manure as insulation to prevent freezing in the winter, but this idea did not work very well. The Jorden patent was for his variation on the drain that allows the water to run out of the riser after each use, in an attempt to prevent freezing. The basic idea is still used today in cold climates.
What Types of Fire Hydrant Systems Are There?
We’ve already discussed that Graff invented the first pillar system, but what exactly does that mean? Well, you might see different types of hydrants all around the world. But there are two basic fire hydrant systems: wet barrel systems and dry barrel systems.
Wet Barrel Systems
“Wet Barrel” fire hydrants have a multitude of advantages. And that is why they are extremely popular where freezing is not an issue. We call it a “wet” barrel system because there is always water flowing and supplied inside of it. So, when a firefighter attaches their fire hose to the valve, they are immediately supplying water to where they need it.
It is also not possible for people to open the valves to cool themselves off on hot summer days. This might seem like an innocent way to have fun. But it actually can have very troublesome effects when there is an emergency.
Wet barrel hydrants that are constructed well have a life expectancy of over 100 years, which isn’t a phrase you can say about most things. Unfortunately, the earliest hydrants from the 1800s aren’t able to be restored to service because of their lead valves, which can be a health safety hazard.
Dry Barrel System
It’s common knowledge that water expands when it freezes. It’s why our pipes can burst in our homes during the
winter. So have you ever wondered why fire hydrants on the street don’t freeze and burst? There’s water in there right? Well, not always. In a dry barrel system, the water stays out of the part of the hydrant we see. It is stored below ground, where the Earth’s temperature is a fairly steady 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you know anyone who uses geothermal heating in the winter for their home, it is the same concept. While the temperature above ground can fluctuate drastically, the temperature below the Earth’s surface is fairly constant, and freezing is not an issue.
When it is needed for use, firefighters open a valve on top to put their hose in. This opens the drain valve inside of the hydrant and allows water to come through. If the valve on the surface is closed, the drain valve will open and allow water to drain from the barrel, and it closes when all of the water has escaped.
Guilford Fire Department Is Chosen For NFPA Pilot Program
Assistant Fire Chief
Guilford Fire Department selected among 250 fire departments nationwide to participate in second phase of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
community risk reduction pilot program
January 29th, 2021 – The Guilford Fire Department has been selected by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to participate in the second phase of a pilot program to build a digital community risk assessment (CRA) tool. Aligned to NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, the tool, or “dashboard,” enables community leaders to gain valuable insights and make data-informed decisions around fire prevention and other risk-reduction activities in their communities.
According to NFPA, the concept of community risk reduction (CRR) - a process that identifies and prioritizes risks and ensures impactful mitigation initiatives- has been gaining traction across North America for more than 20 years. Innovative technology, access to data, and a shifting focus on prevention have resulted in new energy around this process. Reflecting that momentum, NFPA’s CRA tool works to help fire departments aggregate and disseminate data that pinpoint where risks exist within a given community.
“Access to accurate data will allow CRR leaders to use insights and make informed decisions about where to focus efforts and resources,” said Karen Berard-Reed, community risk reduction strategist at NFPA. “While many fire departments have struggled to work with data sets, NFPA’s CRA tool will do the complex work behind the scenes to compile relevant data allowing stakeholders to create effective community risk reduction plans that incorporate five priorities - education, engineering, enforcement, economic incentives, and emergency response - in the most impactful ways possible.”
The first phase of the pilot project, which included participation from 50 fire departments across the country, helped identify features of the digital dashboard that will work effectively and those that need fine-tuning. During the second phase of the program, which involves participation from 250 departments nationwide, the Guilford Fire Department will provide insights around the use of dashboard through June of 2021 to help continue refining and enhancing its effectiveness.
“Participation in this project allows each fire department to provide important feedback that will be used to improve future versions of the dashboard, positions the community among CRR leaders in the United States, and signals an interest in leveraging technology to drive high-quality community safety initiatives,” said Berard-Reed.
As a participant in the pilot program, Guilford Fire Department will have free access to the dashboard, which includes customized visualizations (maps, charts, graphs) that illustrate each community’s risks and hazards across a variety of categories such as demographics, geography, building stock, economics, infrastructure, and event loss history. The dashboard also provides a snapshot of local capacity for risk reduction activities with information about public safety response agencies and community service organizations. In addition to dashboard access, participants will be provided rich networking and professional development opportunities with other communities engaged in CRR.
“We are thrilled to be participating in this important project,” said Michael Shove, Assistant Chief of Operations. “Not only will access to the tool give us invaluable information about our community’s needs, but it’s rewarding to know that using the tool will increase its effectiveness and help other fire departments in the long run.”
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Founded in 1896, NFPA® is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.
Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275